I live in Costa Rica.  It never snows here, but we do have several volcanoes. Having a volcano in your backyard can sometimes be exciting especially when they say HELLO. The video below is from TODAY – June 28, 2021.  

What a Croc

I actually have several videos of crocodiles that I have taken over the years.  The video speaks for itself so Click here to view it. 

TPO… Rain!

I think that I might have screwed up.  We were shy of rain, and the city was covered with volcanic ash, so I prayed for rain.  I even went into the street and did a Native American Dance to bring on the rain and wash away the ash. I was not really sure that it would work, but it did entertain the neighbors. The applause and shouts of “Gringo Loco” encouraged me to keep dancing.

It turns out that I danced for too long, because now the rain will not stop. I just watched the news and there are many flooded areas in the city.  It is clear that I was messing with forces beyond my pay grade.  CLICK HERE to see the result.

The only Sun Dance that I know is a film festival in Utah, so I am not sure what to do now.

That’s the view from my floating chair.


TPO – Weather

Rain-Rain go away…not. Okay, I am back talking about the weather again. Normally, that would be somewhat boring, but in light of the recent focus on “climate change,” it is clearly more appropriate than in the past. It is now raining quite heavily in San José, and in the surrounding area. In light of the recent volcanic eruptions near the city, the rains are even more welcome. The volcano spews out a fine ash known in Spanish as ceniza volcánica. It is like a fine face power that covers everything. It creates problems related to breathing, especially for asthmatics. For more info CLICK HERE

Other parts of Costa Rica, as well as Panama and Nicaragua are also in need of some serious rain, so I hope that there is enough to go around. Right now it sure seems like there is. Those who have read my blogs already know that one of the four factors that are against the building of a canal in Nicaragua is the current lack of water. Lake Nicaragua, the lake that forms the basis of the proposed new canal is quite deficient in water right now. However, I hasten to add that it will indeed take more than just a higher lake level to guarantee the canal will be built, but if one wants a canal, then one must have water. CLICK HERE

I am happy that the rains have finally turned on, because they bring life, unless of course they come too quickly, and in too much quantity. Having a flood is no fun for the people who are affected. In Central America, the rainy season means that it can rain. It is sometimes confused with the term monsoon season, which we do not really have here, except in October, when it can rain really hard for many days, but during the rest of the rainy season, it usually only rains in the afternoon, or at night. That means that most mornings are sunny and bright, which allows one to do what must be done outside. In the afternoon, when it does rain, I stay inside and write blogs. If it is raining really hard, I sometimes contemplate building an ark!

In the absence of any real knowledge, my gut feeling is telling me that this year will bring sufficient rain to areas that in recent years have been a bit shy of the normal tropical rain. As for Nicaragua. If they are to have any chance of building a new canal, they need some very heavy rains this rainy season.

That’s the view from my chair…


Note: In the event you care to know about volcanoes, click here

Today’s Pitiful Offering 2-160529

TPO – The Mall

I went to the new mall today and I took some video. Well, that is until a security guard told me that I could not take video of the activities. I asked him to show me the regulation against taking photos or video, and suddenly he was lost. Since I already had what I wanted, I put my camera away. That made him feel like he was doing his job. I felt good that I was able to allow him to feel like he was actually doing his job.

The mall  looked decent when only looking at a relatively small portion at a time, but looking at the big picture, it looked as if it were designed by a committee where each member spoke a different language. Add to that the fact that it is much like most other malls in the known universe, it is a monument to what not to create. In any case, they needed a new mall in the area like your cat needs more fleas. San José is a big city that, in reality, is just a huge mall with some hotels, government offices, and restaurants sprinkled around to make it seem otherwise. It is for me, a big boring city. Of course, with its mountains, forests, and beaches, Costa Rica is really beautiful and is very different from San José, which seems as out of place here, as the new mall.

With regard to the new mall, several words come to mind. In no particular order, ill-conceived, sterile, and clearly not needed.

That’s the view from my chair.



Canal Update – Costa Rica

In a previous post (click here) I listed four factors as to why the likelihood of a canal through Nicaragua is becoming less of a possibility. However, today’s Canal Update is not even about Nicaragua.  It is about Costa Rica.  No, you haven’t been asleep.  There is no canal in Costa Rica–yet, but yesterday, May 22nd, the Interior Minister of Costa Rica announced on TV, that the Government is indeed serious about going forward with plans to build a 320 kilometer inter-ocean “dry” canal across Costa Rica. It will be a rail link connecting a port on the Pacific Coast, to a port, most likely Puerto Limon, on the Caribbean (Atlantic) coast. click here for map.

Feasibility studies are currently in progress by two separate companies.  If the studies show that it is a viable project, the dry canal project has a very good chance of soon becoming a reality.  Should that happen, it will pose an additional problem for the Nicaragua Canal, which is already behind schedule, and facing serious challenges.

The major elements of a dry canal include container loading and unloading facilities at ports located on either side of the country, and a high speed railroad right-of way between the two ports. The ability to load and unload upwards of 18,000 containers a day is a design requirement, and it is expected that trains, each carrying about 440 containers would leave for the opposite coast about every 40 minutes.  Unlike the project in Nicaragua, only a relatively few people will be required to relocate, because some of the necessary railroad right-of-way already exists, and building a railroad  is far less intrusive than creating a giant waterway. Nevertheless, the dry canal will require a wider, and more stable roadbed than currently exists in Costa Rica, as well as new heavy-duty railroad track.  Oh, and they will also need some trains.

The idea for the dry canal actually goes back many years, and people both inside and outside of the government are asking why the building of a dry canal has taken so long to approve.  However, the announcement of the proposed Nicaragua Canal, and the opening next month of the expanded Panama Canal has rekindled interest in the notion that, it just might make economic sense for Costa Rica to have a canal of its own, and two companies have submitted proposals to build it.

While it will take time and money to create the elements needed for a functioning dry canal, the cost will be far less than digging a waterway, and the time to create it will be a fraction of what it would take to create a canal of the type that now exists in Panama. Granted, Costa Rica is not known for building roads in a rapid manner, but undertaking a project like the dry canal in conjunction with private enterprise, would likely be a different story.

What remains to be seen is just how efficient the expanded Panama Canal will be. There is an expectation that, in addition to allowing larger ships to make the transit, the overall efficiency of the canal will also be increased. If that should lead to a lowering of the existing transit fees, it could impact the viability of building a canal elsewhere. The practicality of any new canal, wet or dry, is dependent on many variables, including the current slowdown in international shipping. That may only be temporary, so the need for a dry canal, especially to service smaller cargo ships, might just make sense. Time will tell, but for now, it looks as if Costa Rica is serious about accepting the challenge of building an inter-ocean, rail based, dry canal. They are however, not alone.  Even as I write this, five or six other dry canal projects are also being considered, and did you know that Panama has a dry canal as well.  My-my-my, it is indeed a very interesting situation that exists these days.

As always, I’ll keep you posted.


Volcano in my Backyard

Volcano Action

This morning I went outside and saw the cars covered with a fine ash that looked to me like face powder.  I live 22.3 miles from a volcano that erupted during the night.  I believe that 22 miles is far enough away to avoid being affected by the full furry of the volcano should it go crazy, but when the wind is blowing from the east, my location gets a dusting of ash known in Spanish as ceniza volcánica.  If during an eruption the wind is blowing this way, then it might dictate that I wear a dust mask to keep from ingesting the fine ash.  Just in case, I keep several on hand should it become necessary.

CLICK HERE to watch a video of what happened May 12, 2016,


Lapa Rios Original (Archived)

The soft rays of the morning sun strike the land below the vintage DC-3 airplane to allow my first look at the countryside of southwestern Costa Rica. From up here the densely wooded mountains stretch out as far as my eyes can see, and the fields flaunt a carpet of green that reminds me of the countryside of Ireland. Five hours ago I was looking at a dreary mantle of white on the snow covered fields of Michigan. Below the green is like candy for my eyes.

Today I am on my way to a new Ecotourist Resort Hotel called Lapa Rios. It is located in a remote area of Costa Rica called The Osa Peninsula. To get to there from North America I must fly on three different airplanes, each one smaller than the one before. I left the United States aboard a very modern “Jumbo Jet.” In San Jose, I boarded an aging, but well maintained Douglas DC-3. It is a true adventure flying over the mountains in a plane that is vintage 1930s. When I arrive in the old “Banana Republic” town of Golfito I board, or shall I say, climb into a small single engine Cessna. Four other travelers from North America are crammed into this little air machine along with our luggage, and the pilot. One of my fellow passengers nervously wonders aloud if this tiny little craft will even fly with such a load. I decide not to speculate about our chances, but to just keep my video camera rolling during the entire flight.

The flight across the gulf peninsula lasts only 7 minutes. It turns out to be very pleasant. However, given the diminishing size of the airplanes, I am extremely happy that there is not a fourth plane in my immediate future. We land on a gravel runway located in the town of Puerto Jimenez where I see a small, flat bed pickup truck. This truck, among other things, is displaying a sign that reads “taxi.” It is not at all like any taxi that I have previously known, but that’s okay with me, just as long as I do not have to fly in it.

Puerto Jimenez, the largest town on the Osa peninsula, is somewhat reminiscent of a North American frontier town complete with an interesting mix of cars and horses kicking up dust from the dirt streets. The town is only about eight square blocks long, and as we pass through, I see a couple of modern looking houses. Everything else is made out of wood and looks as if it has been around for some time. I am not sure, but my imagination tells me that life here must be similar to life in the western United States in a bygone era.

We head south and bump along for about 35 minutes, occasionally driving on the wrong side of the road to avoid a “pot hole.” There are holes everywhere, so I am not sure why we try to miss some, but go into others. I guess this is what is called “local knowledge.” The taxi driver informs me that the United States Army Corps of Engineers will be arriving soon to resurface the road and replace several of the aging bridges. This is very good because some bridges are damaged. We must ford several streams to get to Lapa Rios. I decide that the condition of the road simply enhances the adventure of going into a rain forest.

The incredible beauty of the countryside along the way makes the trip seem shorter than it really is. I am finally beginning to feel comfortable with the road when suddenly, from over the crest of a hill; a thundering herd of cattle appears. I stare in disbelief at the rapidly approaching sea of fierce looking bovines descending upon us. The dust cloud and the noise are intimidating to me, but the calm demeanor of the “taxi” driver reassures me that all is well. It is never a problem for us because the herd splits apart and passes around the vehicle while I get some good video footage of the entire event.

When I arrive at Lapa Rios, my senses go into overload. A truly unique resort hotel stands where a year ago only a barren 350-foot mesa existed. It is a beautiful piece of architecture and it looks like something that actually belongs in a rain forest.

The large main lodge is a giant “jungle hut.” Inside is a restaurant and bar with a dramatic spiral staircase that leads to an observation deck. Outside there is a swimming pool, and 14 luxury cabins spread out over the mesa. I am in awe by what has sprung from the jungle in just over a year.

The name Lapa Rios translates loosely into English as “Rivers of the Scarlet Macaw.” The Scarlet Macaw is the bright-multicolored parrot-like bird indigenous to the area. When viewed in flight from the 350-foot mesa these birds appear to be a river of moving color — thus the name Lapa Rios. Because it has just opened, the resort is not very crowded during the time of my stay, but this situation will no doubt change as word of the incredible resort spreads throughout the land.

In the past, most of the people who came to see the rain forest jungle were the adventurous backpacker-camper types who liked the idea of pitching a tent in the wilderness. Now all that has changed. Of course, you can still pitch a tent and camp along the beach, but now there is another alternative. Lapa Rios was constructed to be a luxury resort in the rain forest. It is a place with 14 luxury cabins, each complete with twin queen size beds, modern lavatory facilities, a garden patio, and electricity. If that’s not enough, how about a place that also has a five-star restaurant and bar. All of this was accomplished in keeping with the principles of good rain forest ecology. In fact, during construction, not one live tree was cut from the site where the hotel now stands.

John and Karen Lewis created Lapa Rios, but it is Karen who is most responsible for the beautiful tropical gardens that adorn the complex. They contribute to the decor of each cabin. One can easily get the feeling of being in the jungle without leaving the enclosed patio of their cabin.

My days at Lapa Rios are filled with bird watching and observing the other types of wildlife including the flora and fauna. I also like to visit the near-by beach or walk along the Rio Carbonara. This river is what most people would call a large stream. It features several dazzling waterfalls and during the course of my hike, I stop frequently to stand under the cascading water and cool off.

I walk many of the jungle trails within the rain forest, but much of what I encounter is within just a few meters of the hotel. In a single week, here I have seen an overwhelming abundance of plant and animal wild life. The list of what I have seen includes; a family of three toed sloth’s, four different types of monkeys, over 100 different species of birds, and several types of butterflies including the large “electric blue” amorphous butterflies called “morfos” by the locals. (Mariposa Morfo Azul)  All this I see without ever leaving the hotel grounds.

Although I’m living in a tropical rain forest jungle, life is quite comfortable. The air is humid, but there always seems to be a soft fragrant breeze washing over the mesa where the Hotel Lapa Rios stands. This provides a comfortable environment in which to view the land and waters of the adjacent Golfo Dulce. (Sweet Gulf) Actually, on the Osa Peninsula one can find an unlimited number of places that offer a sweeping view of the ocean waters.

From the beginning, it has been an effort for me to absorb the abundance of the tropical diversity that exists here, but no matter how many times I enter the rain forest I am still in awe of the beauty and tranquility that I find there. When I slip under the canopy, I encounter a different world teeming with life. Yet, for me, it is very much like being inside a giant cathedral.

One thing that I like about Costa Rica is that winter, as most North Americans know it, does not exist here. (Snow Bunnies please skip the rest of this paragraph.) There are actually only two seasons in Costa Rica, wet and dry. On the OSA Peninsula that translates into “Mud or Dust.” However, there is but one temperature here all year round–HOT! January is in the dry season, but to my delight, this year there have been a couple of good tropical rain showers. I like tropical rain because it is often quite dramatic. The sky opens up and quickly the giant cumulus clouds dump millions of gallons of water onto the jungle. Then, as if by magic, the clouds vanish to permit the strong rays of the sun to reach into the dripping jungle and summon the water back to the sky. The ascending pillars of water vapor give rise to the term “steaming jungle.” If you have never been witness to this process then you have a wonderful experience awaiting you.

The rain forest in this part of Costa Rica is among the last remaining low land tropical rain forest jungle left in the world. My trip here to see it has been everything that I had expected it to be, and more.

Jim Sayers
March 1993